NFC Championship: Observations from the cheap seats

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The second half

Cameron Jordan
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – JANUARY 20: Jared Goff #16 of the Los Angeles Rams gets sacked by Cameron Jordan #94 of the New Orleans Saints during the fourth quarter in the NFC Championship game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 20, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

The Saints defense came out strong to open the second half forcing a punt and then the offense got back in sync with a long drive featuring a lot of rushing from RBs Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram. From this point, the game became a dogfight, with scores traded back and forth. Both defenses truly did a great job. Holding either of these offenses to 23 points is a solid accomplishment and both defenses did that, giving up only one TD per half each.

For all our faults, the Saints possessed the ball with 3:22 left on the clock in the game. This is a positive scenario. Just before the two minute warning came up, the Saints had the ball 2nd and 12 at the their own 44-yard line. Drew Brees completed a jump ball pass to Ted Ginn, Jr. for 43 yards down to the 13 yard line of the Rams. This should have been the dagger to the heart.

What happens after this point will be the stuff of nightmares in New Orleans for years to come. After a few inexplicable play calls and only 10 seconds coming off the clock, the Saints have a 3rd and 10 still from the Rams’ 13. Brees throws a pass to the front pylon to Tommylee Lewis. Lewis is contacted before the ball gets to him, helmet to helmet, and no flag was thrown. The game had been relatively flag free as the referees allowed the defenders some leeway with hand fighting. But this was different. It has roundly been criticized by any and every pundit going, to no avail. The no call left the Saints with 4th down and they kicked their field goal with 1:41 left on the clock.

By now, you know the rest of this story. Even though our defense played well all game, they were playing a very good Los Angeles team. The Rams moved the ball down to field goal range and Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein put the game into overtime with a 48 yard field goal.

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The Saints won the overtime toss, but the Rams put on a defensive clinic culminating with a pressured throw from Brees wobbling in the air and being intercepted. Five plays later, the Rams were again in field goal range and Zuerlein kicked a 57 yarder to send them to Atlanta in two weeks. A tragic loss for the Who Dat Nation. One made more disgusting by an obvious blown call.